November 2016

Monthly Archives

  • iFi Audio’s Black Label micro iDSD can go everywhere you do

    You ask: which DAC for portable headphone listening and a loudspeaker rig? In 2016, Chord Electronics’ battery-powered Mojo will likely dominate a field of crowd-sourced responses. But Chord aren’t the only game in town. Bubbling underneath are AMR offshoot iFi Audio whose micro iDSD unit offers a far more diversified feature set even if its DAC chip comes directly […]

  • Everyone wins with Roon, DAR!

    DAR is an audiophile publication – that much is obvious – but we’re not ones to hide our love of the gear behind a love of music. What sets this webzine apart is the music upon which it is built, especially the music used to conduct reviews; it is, in the main, different to other mags. My own tastes lean heavily on alternative […]

  • KIH #38 – Chips Ahoy!

    ICky. That’s a pervasive high-endish reaction to ICs, short for integrated circuits. Of course most D/A converters plain wouldn’t work without ‘em. Even a €20’000 Gryphon relies on an ESS Tech Sabre chip. And what is a fashionable FPGA but a large-scale integrated chip? For this component category, hi-end’s chip on the shoulder makes far-reaching […]

  • MonoRice 1X USB DAC – grand theft audio?

    “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” – Herman Melville The MonoRice 1X USB DAC (US$59) and headphone amplifier looks more like a thumb drive than many of its competitors. It’s a device to soup up the sound quality of headphones (or hi-fi) connecting to your Mac or PC (but […]

  • In every dream home a heartache…

    Which ingredient most influences a hifi system’s sound quality? The instinct-driven first responder might first point to his loudspeakers. But no. For those who don’t think they all sound the same, amplification might get the nod. Nope. Source-firsters (aka flat-earthers) will probably opine that it’s the DAC and streamer or, in the analogue domain, the phono […]

  • A new crossover point: Cary Audio’s AiOS

    AiOS – all-in-one-system – is a US$2995 super integrated from North Carolina’s Cary Audio. A 75wpc Class A/B loudspeaker amplifier with in-built DAC and network streamer. Just add loudspeakers. Looking more closely at the AiOS’ back panel we note coaxial and TOSLINK inputs for feeding the AiOS’ digitally via a third party disc spinner or streamer. Also present are coaxial […]

  • A new career in a new town with Astell&Kern Rosie by Jerry Harvey

    “Why Berlin?”, asked The American tentatively, somewhat bemused as to why anyone would trade the easy-living of sub-tropical Australia for the ice-cold of Eastern Germany. Such swiftly administered climate change has immediate implications for personal audio gear choices. Hot weather demands nothing but IEMs. Step below 20C and full size headphones pull into view. Knock another 15C off […]

  • Doing it for the kids: Audioengine ready HD3 ‘Wireless Music System’

    Your average portable Bluetooth loudspeaker’s biggest shortcoming? It isn’t Bluetooth audio’s lossy transmission (although it can be). Neither is it the loudspeaker’s smaller drivers and associated lack of punch, especially in the low end (although it can be). No – your average portable Bluetooth loudspeaker’s biggest shortcoming is its absence of proper stereo separation; left and right channels emanate from the […]

  • A long night of the ears

    In front of a pair of Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3 loudspeakers driven by Mark Levinson electronics, all fed by an AURALiC Aries streamer, sit two rows of six chairs, not one of which is empty. The room is packed full of dudes, mostly middle-aged – it’s standing room only. Out in the street, more middle-aged […]

  • It’s a checkpoint, Charlie!

    Nah und Fern – near and far – is a 4CD collection of Wolfgang Voigt’s ambient work, released under his Gas alias. Much of it is beatless but when four-to-the-floor pulses do emerge, they do so subtly. Often the throbs are as woozy as the synths that wash over them. Picture Biosphere’s Substrata drone re-moulded […]

  • Hallelujah! John Cale’s Fragments Of A Rainy Season to be reissued

    Hallelujah. Whose version is the definitive version? The synth-tinged, half-sung, funereal Leonard Cohen original that somewhat stoically started up Side B of 1984’s Various Positions? It’s an album that very nearly didn’t see the light of day. Sony/Columbia turned its nose up at the paucity of potential hits and refused to release it in the USA. “We know you’re […]

  • Not your Father’s Sony Corporation

    Simulationszeitalter. The age of simulation. Frankfurt electro artist Anthony Rother’s second long player is as close as it gets to the Kraftwerk sound without the Kling Klangers calling in the lawyers. Behind headphones, I walk the length of Kurfurstendamm, the half-stepped mechanical pulse of “Biomechanik” slows my own. This is electro shot through desolate warehouses […]